In our current polarized society, journalists have experienced threats, intimidation and, in some cases, physical attacks as they attempt to gather and report the news. According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, 51 journalists faced physical attacks while trying to do their jobs in 2018. In an effort to protect journalists, on March 12, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) introduced a bicameral bill, the Journalist Protection Act, which would make it a federal crime to intentionally cause bodily injury to a journalist in the course of reporting, or intimidate him or her from newsgathering. “A healthy democracy depends on a free press unencumbered by threats of violence,” said Rep. Swalwell. The bill will “send a strong message that such violence will not be tolerated,” he added. The Alliance will work in support of passing the Journalist Protection Act in the 116th Congress. “We hope that with the bill’s enactment, journalists will be safer on the job and can focus on informing the public and enhancing the public discourse, which are critical to a functioning democracy,” stated David Chavern, Alliance president and CEO.
Members of the News Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.